“Chronic fatigue syndrome [ME/CFS] and depression share symptoms and may coexist – but thanks to new efforts spearheaded by the CDC, skilled clinicians can more easily tell them apart.” Katherine M. Erdman, MPAS, PA-C
Assistant Director of the Physician Assistant Program at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Katherine Erdman, wrote a really great educational article titled How Biological Abnormalities Separate CFS from Depression. You can read the entire article online at the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants website.
Katherine Erdman points out in her article:
Investigators have been studying CFS from an evidence-based perspective for more than 2 decades. The CDC recently declared, “There is now abundant scientific evidence that CFS is a real physiological illness. It is not a form of depression or hypochondriasis. A number of biologic abnormalities have been identified in people with CFS.”
The lack of credibility given to CFS has been a key obstacle to understanding and acceptance of it as a formal disease state. The CDC, in collaboration with the CFIDS Association of America, initiated a public health campaign to educate the medical community and the public and to advocate for awareness and effective management of CFS. The campaign includes increased dissemination of scientific findings, a CFS Toolkit for clinicians, new continuing medical education opportunities, detailed information on the CDC Web site, public service announcements, advertisements, brochures, and a traveling photo exhibit.
The article also directs readers to resources and guidelines clinicians can use for the workup and diagnosis of a patient with ME/CFS symptoms. Overall, writes Erdman, the challenge to the clinician is to decide for each patient whether the fatigue and other symptoms are due to primary depression, physical illness such as CFS, or a combination. Medical professionals may take a test on the information this article offers to earn educational credits.